On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Indictment No. 99-07-2486.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Wefing and Grall.
Defendant appeals from a trial court order denying his petition for post-conviction relief. After reviewing the record in light of his contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.
A jury convicted defendant in 2001 of aggravated manslaughter, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a, as a lesser-included offense of murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1)(2); unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b; and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a. The trial court sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of twenty years in prison, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act ("NERA"), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant appealed, and we affirmed his convictions and sentence in an unpublished opinion, State v. July, No. A-5319-01T4 (App. Div. Oct. 18, 2004). The Supreme Court denied certification. 182 N.J. 629 (2005). Defendant filed a PCR petition in March 2005. Counsel was assigned to represent defendant in connection with that petition. He prepared a brief and presented oral argument in support of defendant's contention that he had not received effective representation from his trial attorney. The trial court denied defendant's petition, and this appeal followed. Defendant makes the following arguments on appeal:
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BASED ON INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
A. Trial Counsel Failed to Adequately Investigate and Cross-Examine a Key Witness About Additional Pending Charges
B. Trial Counsel Failed to Properly Investigate Facts and Witnesses
C. Trial Counsel Failed to Call Certain Witnesses
II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE PETITION FOR POST-CONVICTION RELIEF BASED ON THE DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE BRADY INFORMATION.
In our previous opinion, we summarized the evidence presented at trial in the following manner:
The State's theory of the case was that defendant shot and killed Akie Robertson in a dispute over territory for drug dealing. The State presented evidence that defendant and Michael Richardson were engaged in selling narcotics at the intersection of North Fourteenth Street and Sixth Avenue in Newark. Shortly before 2:00 a.m. on August 18, 1998, Akie Robertson and John Bradberry, also known as Kool-Aid, arrived at the intersection with a similar intent. Defendant and Richardson objected to Robertson and Bradberry, who were from Orange, selling drugs from this Newark location. Richardson went to remonstrate with them while defendant went to retrieve a gun. When defendant returned, Richardson was being beaten by Kool-Aid. Defendant pulled out the gun and fired several shots, one of which struck Robertson in the back of the head, killing him. Defendant and Richardson both fled the scene.
Defendant was not apprehended until several years later, when Richardson, who had had a falling out with defendant, implicated him in this shooting. When Richardson testified at defendant's trial, he had thirteen prior ...